Unmanned Aerial Systems: Exploring the Possibilities

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, are aircraft without a pilot, crew, or human passengers on board. UAVs are part of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), which includes a ground controller and a communications system. UAVs can be remotely piloted by a human operator, such as a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), or with varying degrees of autonomy, such as autopilot assistance. UAVs are used for a variety of purposes, from payload delivery to surveillance.

The use of UAVs is increasingly regulated by civil aviation authorities in individual countries. Military UAS classify UAVs based on their weight, maximum altitude, and speed. The malicious use of UAVs has led to the development of counter-UAS technologies. UAS consist of the aircraft component, sensor payloads, and a ground control station.

RAND research has contributed to the public debate on the use of drones for warfare and surveillance. The presentation of the first full-scale model of the European medium-altitude, high-strength unmanned aerial system at the ILA Berlin Air Show is a showcase of combined European technological excellence. This local positioning system allows manned and remotely controlled aerial vehicles (RPAS) to determine their relative position in the most adverse environmental conditions. The authors examine the logistical and maintenance aspects of an emerging operating concept to employ a family of UAVs that can be launched, recovered and maintained with minimal dependence on runways. In this report, RAND researchers explore current and potential military applications of autonomous systems, focusing especially on unmanned underwater vehicles and unmanned surface vehicles.

This policy direction is set out in the Secretary of Defense's Policy Memorandum entitled Guide to the Domestic Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the United States.Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are increasingly being integrated into today's airspace, providing unparalleled intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data for both military and civil applications. A similar term is an unmanned aerial vehicle system (UAVS), remotely piloted aerial vehicle (RPAV), remote piloted aircraft system (RPAS). Unmanned aerial vehicles are used in numerous real-life applications, such as payload delivery, traffic monitoring, the movement of objects in seemingly hazardous environments, and surveillance. An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is defined as a motorized aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to sustain the vehicle, can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely, can be disposable or recoverable, and can carry a lethal or non-lethal payload.

Colton Morford
Colton Morford

Avid student. Evil bacon fanatic. Total bacon fan. Passionate internet practitioner. Amateur internet advocate. Proud travel evangelist.

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